The Council on Foundations and CEONet gathered CEOs and executives for a virtual roundtable discussion about the growing challenges Community Foundation face resulting from COVID-19.  A range of perspectives and experiences were shared about how foundations immediately began problem solving at the beginning of the crisis.

During the discussion, it quickly became apparent that Community foundations are doing everything from creating popup websites and developing matching grant initiatives to re-allocating funding toward specific geographic areas and those most in need. The following leaders joined the conversation:

  • Kathleen Enright, Council on Foundations
  • Deborah Ellwood, CFLeads
  • David Rosado, CFInsights
  • Judy Sjostedt, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, West Virginia
  • Mike Batchelor, The Erie Community Foundation, Pennsylvania
  • Kristi Knous, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Iowa
  • Javier Alberto Soto, The Denver Foundation
  • Darrin Goss, Coastal Community Foundation
  • Monique Jones, Evanston Community Foundation, Illinois
  • Brad Ward, Council on Foundations (moderator)

Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

Javier Alberto Soto shared how his foundation immediately embraced flexibility around general operating support and relaxed some metrics, reporting and data gathering.

Judy Sjostedt described how a lot of people stepped up to do something, but community organizations needed to figure out how volunteers could be best utilized. She also shared that during the crisis, she sent an electronic survey to organizations to see if she could postpone the granting of non-emergency funds to the next cycle.

Darrin Goss shared that their relief and recovery fund matched donor grants within 9 local counties. The foundation delayed future grant making so they will have resources to leverage down the road. He asked 20 donors to match their emergency fund of $50,000 and is cooperating with United Way.

Kristi Knous found a way for nonprofit organizations to communicate via the 211 system – a free, confidential 24-hour referral and information helpline/website to connect people of all ages, from all communities, to the essential health and human services they need.  She implemented a portal for nonprofit organizations to submit their services and post their funding needs and the gaps. 31 county-based affiliates have been engaged to shift their grant making.

Monique Jones encouraged grantees to participate in nonprofit workshops which have been shifted online. In collaboration with the local United Way, she and her team partnered with some family foundations to channel funds through matched donations.

Mike Batchelor told how they established Erie Gives, a portal for the general public, corporate funders and donors to connect with their local nonprofits and provide funds to those requesting, with a match from the foundation.

Darrin Goss shared that being on the coast of South Carolina, they adapted hurricane disaster response plans to meet the new needs.

Kristi Knous emphasized that her office went remote in a matter of hours, and prior to that, they had not had a plan in place. She believes that the experience of rapid change due to COVID19 has been a blessing in disguise for her foundation to learn, grow and implement policies for the future.


This is blog part of a series about social impact conversations we are listening to in the marketplace. Read about Corporate Response to Mental Health During COVID-19, and Gen Z’s Attitude During COVID-19.



Share This